Lexington’s Proposed Smoking Ban: Point, Counterpoint

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The Public Debate
Smoke ‘em if you got ‘em?


 

POINT: Bring the ban

Your right to extend your fist ends at my nose.

-Oliver Wendell Holmes

I propose a demonstration by those who favor the Smoking Ban. Buy a Kazoo, visit bars and restaurants, place the Kazoo between your lips, and hum. Music will waft around the room, entertaining patrons nearby. No problem, right? After all, Kazoo playing is legal. We have the “right” to play Kazoos. But, I bet management asks you to stop. Or someone waving a cigarette will shout, “Quit making that noise!” To which you proudly reply, “As a Free American, I choose to play this Kazoo and will do so. If you don’t like it, you can leave.”

I’m tired of smokers against the proposed Smoking Ban arguing for their “right” to smoke, saying that if I don’t like smoke, I should “stay home.” That says to me, a non-smoker, that they believe their “right” to smoke is guaranteed, yet my “right” to go out without suffering the effects of smoke is not. I, apparently, missed the school day when teacher said, “Our Founding Fathers lit up, wrote the Declaration of Independence, and held it to be self-evident that ‘All men are created equal, as long as they smoke.’”

And the “smoking is no different than drinking” argument is also ridiculous. I can go out, choose not to drink, sit next to someone choosing to drink and, unless they spill their drink on me, be unaffected by their consumption. If they drink excessively and become a nuisance, they often get cut off or are asked to leave. If they’re a BIG nuisance, start a fight, or drive, they could be arrested. Why? Because their choice is affecting others.

I don’t deny anyone their choices. Drink, eat meat, light ‘em up. All fine with me, just keep the booze, the grease, and the smoke off of those who don’t participate.

Of course, restaurant and bar owners cry foul that their industry is being unfairly singled out. I absolutely agree with them. That is wrong.

The ban should apply to all public places.

Breathe smoke into your private lungs without exhaling into public air and we won’t have a problem.

Christopher Rose, Age 36, Lexington, “Occupation Unknown-Seeking work in non-smoking environment”

Last week’s town meeting on the issue

I think we all know it’s going to come down to the smokers vs. the nonsmokers, and unfortunately for the smokers, there are more nonsmokers in the world. It’s fair to ask those who smoke to do so outside; it’s unfair to contaminate the health of many for the bad habit of a few. (Come on, let’s be honest: we all know second-hand smoke is a health hazard, and a noticeable stink in the air and on clothes for nonsmokers.)

Erin Grace, 21, Student, Transylvania University

Time for Lexington to wake up and lead the rest of Kentucky. All research and experience indicates that with a smoking ban:

1) Deaths will go down

2) Business will go up

Five years ago, at age 50, my wife and I had a small private celebration. The occasion was that I had lived to be at least one day older than my sister who died six years before. I would not be the youngest person in my family to die from cancer. Now I am working on being the only one to not die of this disease. I’d love to save anyone the experience I had of kneeling at my 50-year-old sister’s coffin.

Ted Tabb, 55, Lexmark staff

I think [the ban] is an excellent idea. It’s seriously making me consider leaving Louisville for a more health-conscious and progressive city.

Tony Baize, 29, Nonprofit administrator

The smoking ban is long overdue in light of all of the evidence that second-hand smoke causes health problems.

It seems to me that the whole issue is caught in confusion over personal rights that smokers feel they have to smoke in public places. The problem is that smokers seem to forget that in those instances, their “right” to smoke is infringing on my right to breathe.

Aaron Kincer, 25 Network Engineer

I moved to Minneapolis from Lexington in 1994, and one of the things I noticed immediately here was the cleaner indoor air-due in large part, I imagine, to the Minnesota Clean Indoor Air Act. While not as extensive as the ban on smoking proposed in Lexington, the MCIAA has made being in restaurants and shopping areas much more pleasant than some I remember from Lexington. A ban on smoking in Lexington would make it a more pleasant place to return to.

Pete Sherry, 27, Librarian

The causes of so many cancers and diseases cannot be controlled, but second-hand smoke is not one of them. I am strongly in favor of Lexington leading the way to bringing Kentucky into the reality of the 21st century by enacting a smoking ban in restaurants and bars. It is every person’s right to expect to breathe clean air and not be forced to breathe the carcinogens of second-hand smoke if they choose to go out to a restaurant or bar.

Kathy Tabb, 52, Museum Director

COUNTERPOINT:
Smoke ‘em if you got ‘em

I believe the council should consider a smoking ban, but only after they have found a way to fix the potholes on my street, pick up my leftover branches, fix the city’s sanitary sewer problems, increase the money available for police salaries, increase funding for fire protection, and balance the city budget without raising my taxes to the point that I have to move to Nicholasville…oh and I forgot they want to buy the water company too!

Richard Stump, 27, Business owner

Once again, we have a prime example of the local government trying to step in and control what we, as human beings, have the RIGHT to do. As a smoker of 15 years, I have always respected the rights of those who choose not to smoke. I also respect the restaurants who have chosen to make their establishments “Smoke-Free.” Having lived in Lexington for over 16 years, I have NEVER walked into a restaurant and thought to myself, “Geezzz, there sure is a lot of smoke in here.” The reason for this is simple; restaurant owners, as a whole, are aware most people do not want to smell smoke while they are eating and provide designated “smoking areas” with proper ventilation. In regard to the smoking ban in bars, it is absolutely INSANE.

When most of you think of a bar, what is the first image that pops into your head? That’s right; people sitting at the bar with a drink in one hand and a cigarette in the other. This is NOT to say that all drinkers are smokers, but a vast majority of people who patronize bars do smoke. It is one of the few places left where smokers may go to light-up, have a drink, and relax after a hard day’s work. Those who do not smoke and choose to go to a bar after work, have known this fact for years and accept it.

For once, give the CITIZENS of Lexington the right to vote on this issue and not let a handful of council members decide what we, as free American individuals, have a legal right to do!

Dale Lee, 37, Lexington

A smoke ban, or even a referendum about one, would be a community disaster for Lexington. I know because I’ve lived through a ban and a referendum.

I’m a KY boy, a U. of KY grad, and spend much time in KY but live in Duluth, MN.

The Duluth city council voted for a ban in 2001 and there was a referendum later in the year. It opened a Pandora’s Box of evils. It divided the community and even families into feuding factions. It damaged businesses and trampled property rights. It glamorized tyranny of a majority over a minority. It legitimized self-centeredness, lying, intolerance, prejudice and discrimination, and taught these values to our children. It is giving us a glimpse of the road to totalitarianism.

And for what?

The health scare associated with second-hand smoke is a fraud, a hoax, false. The three largest events associated with that scare are: 1. An insider’s controversy in the late 80s through 1992 about how crooked the EPA’s report on second-hand smoke would be. 2. Federal Judge Osteen in 1998 tossed that EPA report in the trash as junk science. 3. Later in 1998 a huge multinational study by the World Health Organization (WHO) found no significant evidence that second-hand smoke was any health hazard at all.

The health scare is sustained by a conspiracy of silence. All three of the above events were highly newsworthy, yet according to its Index, the New York Times printed not one word about them.

Smoking bans do nothing to improve public health, but they certainly do damage the health of the community. Duluth is not nearly as nice a place as it was before the ban.

You do NOT want a referendum, for this is when the activists will pull out all the stops and really get nasty and divisive. The ones here slandered decent people and put out false data that was absolutely appalling. For instance, they put out “scientific” data that said the smoke in a certain bar is 128 times that which a government study found, based on the IDENTICAL scientific paper. They said a child of smoking parents gets 16 times as much smoke in its first five years as the government study said a bartender gets in the same time. The “scientist” to whom the numbers were attributed would not respond to multiple queries, nor would her dean at a prestigious CA University.

The city council should protect the integrity of the community by voting the ban down, and any who vote for it should be summarily drummed out of office as a hazard to the health of the body politic.

William H. Rees, 68, a retired Air Force pilot, combat veteran of Vietnam War.
Also a lawyer in MN (non-practicing), and manages family farms in KY.

Proponents of the smoke ban promise that once we treat our smoking friends terribly the result will be wonderfully clean indoor air. But unfortunately, there’s no such thing as “clean air.” To quote from a report, “The Case Against Smoking Bans,” outdoor air is already polluted by 320 industrial toxins plus automobile exhaust. And once it comes in (through our doors, windows, and vents) it mingles with a long list of indoor pollutants. The report spells them out:

“Aside from whatever’s growing in the vents (bacteria, fungi, and various toxic molds) there’s formaldehyde leaking from foam rubber cushions; volatile compounds leaking from the walls, from upholstery, carpeting, cleaning solvents, wax, disinfectants and pesticides; there’s dust from rugs, and gas from the stove. Now add human beings. Not only are they busily exhaling carbon dioxide-a pollutant about to be restricted at Kyoto-but they’re shedding all manner of viruses and bacteria.”

“Clean air,” as it’s promised here, simply doesn’t exist-not even in a totally smoke-free environment. And certainly not in a smoker-free restaurant, where possibly the most important source of pollution and air-borne carcinogens is restaurant COOKING! Cooking meat, in fact, produces many of the carcinogens selectively imputed to second-hand smoke. And though OSHA finds the ambient levels from both sources (smoking and cooking) to be well within permissible exposure levels for an 8-hour work day, Dr. C Everett Koop (quoting the American Institute of Cancer Research) warns cooks to beware of sputtering meat fat which releases carcinogens that can lodge in the lungs. We seriously wonder if the anti-smoking activists would suggest that only the carcinogens that come from cigarettes, as opposed to those that come from pork chops and burgers, are a threat to human health (even though OSHA says the levels of both are safe). Applying the same standards to the same carcinogens, one would then have to conclude that there’s “no safe level of exposure to dinner.”

Sandy Fields, Owner, Rosebud Bar and The Scarlett Lounge

Big Brother is watching us? Our country was founded on principles of freedom of speech. Why are we smokers not being given the same amount of time to discuss our right to smoke as the non-smokers? I spend little time in bars, however I dine out often and do not frequent the non-smoking restaurants including the two Ramsey’s that prohibit smoking. If bars and restaurants were 5 feet square I could more easily understand the objection to smokers, but they are not. They are normally large spaces with air cleaning equipment and the smoke just drifts away. This is not a governmental issue, rather one of freedom of choice. If we allow the government to rule on this matter, what is next? Give that some serious thought!

Susan Clay Callaway, Realtor, 56

I am a “healed smoker” and have not smoked for four years now, however allow me to go to the defense of smokers. I am a realtor and my company, many years ago, decided after much debate to go smokeless. At that point, I became a second-class citizen (only because I smoked), people watched me to be sure I was not smoking, in the building. I had to go outside to smoke, which had an effect on my production. I noticed that all of a sudden it was us and them. Not a team anymore, that is not fair to either side.

Why can’t we vote with our dollars, if a restaurant is for smokers, go somewhere else, or visa versa. I have not met that first smoker, who has gotten angry, when asked in a polite way to stop smoking. When it is against the law, an enforcer will be called and there goes our taxes up again. Why can’t people understand, that each time the government gets involved…IT COSTS THE TAXPAYERS.

If the owner of a restaurant, wants to allow smoking, let’s let the owner suffer the consequences, not the city and not the taxpayers.

Mike Moynahan, Realtor

Referendum for Sale?

In last week’s news item on the Town Meeting, Ace printed:]”The idea of a referendum and letting the voters of Lexington decide the matter was one that garnered much applause, and left some appalled.”

Something to be aware of and careful of. The Anti-smoking Lobby has a HUGE amount of money to throw at things like this.

In Florida the vote on the Constitutional Amendment to ban smoking was swayed by the fact that the Anti-smokers spent almost six MILLION dollars while the main group fighting the ban was able to raise only three thousand dollars. Being outspent by a ratio of two thousand to one can make the idea of a referendum a laughingstock.

If there’s some way to pin down the expenditures of those pushing for the ban, both direct and indirect, you might be able to get some points simply by showing how they’re trying to “buy the election.”

Michael J. McFadden

Big Tobacco is losing lawsuits right and left, but has yet to shell out a penny in judgments. If a smoking ban is put to a vote in Lexington, it seems obvious that they have the resources to buy that vote. To say nothing of Kentucky’s own burley lobby.

Catherine Brooking, 35, Retail



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